If you love nature, look after it!
The Wildlife Trusts appeal to people’s love of nature following last weekend’s wildfires, vandalism, littering and disturbance to wildlife.
Thousands of people have enjoyed and sought solace in beautiful countryside and stunning Wildlife Trust nature reserves over the last few weeks. But these places and other attractive beauty spots have taken a battering as the lifting of some lockdown rules coincides with warmer weather leading to a surge of people outdoors. As a result, The Wildlife Trusts – a movement of 46 nature charities across the UK – are reporting a huge increase of damage to reserves and the wildlife that lives there.
- Devastating fires across wild areas where portable BBQs have been used
- Ground-nesting birds and rare plants have been disturbed and trampled by people and dogs
- Antisocial behaviour – including littering, using wild places as outdoor toilets and vandalism have been widely reported
Craig Bennett, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts, says: “These wonderful wild places are vital local havens for people to enjoy with family and friends, to walk, rest and see nature. Our natural heritage is priceless and so important for us all – for our health and happiness – but it is fragile. We’re appealing to everyone to love and look after it. Everyone is welcome but please respect our wild places, other visitors and people who work there.”
The Wildlife Trusts are asking everyone to love and look after wildlife and wild places:
- Avoid BBQs and fires
- Take all your litter home
- Keep dogs on leads (check whether they're allowed on-site) and pick up dog mess
- Park considerately
- Cafes and toilets are shut – so limit the length of your visit and stay local!
- Avoid trampling sensitive wildflower meadows
- Smile at our staff – we’re here to help you enjoy your visit!
Debbie Tann, CEO of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, says: “Of course we want people to be outside and enjoying green spaces and we appreciate that lockdown has taken its toll, but these nature reserves are fragile places, covering just 1% of our overall landscape, and they are vital to protect our most vulnerable wildlife.”
Land Management & People Engagement Director for Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust, Chris Williams says: “I’ve worked in the sector for nearly 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. We have seen a dramatic increase in vandalism, fly tipping, litter, fires, out of control dogs worrying our livestock, people feeding and abusing our grazing ponies. Our land management teams are already struggling to cope with the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak and this is causing additional and unnecessary stress to those dedicated staff and volunteers who care for these places.”
The Wildlife Trusts now manage around 2,300 nature reserves including all imaginable habitats - bogs, moors, mountains, ancient woods, wildflower meadows, heaths, urban nature parks, caves, lakes, islands, beaches, cliffs and disused quarries. The nature reserves range from a whole mountain in Scotland to a single ancient hawthorn tree in Norfolk. The Wildlife Trusts believe that people need nature and it needs us.
Find out more about The Wildlife Trusts, here.
Images: Burnt heathland at Brentmoor Heath ©Surrey Wildlife Trust, Fire at the closed Charnwood Lodge Nature Reserve ©Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust, Litter at Narborough Bog ©Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust, Hide arson at Stockers Lake ©Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust, Whelford Pools burnt hide ©Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, BBQ and litter at Lugg Meadow June 2020 ©Herefordshire Wildlife Trust.